What's that? Rich people buy their cars at dealerships just like we do?
Yep, and according to a new study from TrueCar, Mr. and Mrs. Moneybags don't go in for luxury models nearly as completely as you'd think. TrueCar has released a list of the top 10 most popular cars in the wealthiest zip codes in the U.S. and, shockingly enough, half the vehicles on it are mainstream models from Toyota, Honda and Volkswagen.
As you would expect, a Mercedes-Benz is indeed at the top of the list, but note that it's the E-Class rather than the S-Class. Runner-up was the BMW 3 Series, just ahead of the C-Class. Fourth place went to the Lexus RX, and fifth to the Toyota Prius. Then the real commonplace models take over, with the Volkswagen Jetta in sixth, the Honda CR-V and Accord in seventh and eighth, and the Toyota Camry taking ninth. The BMW X5 wraps up the list in 10th place.
What this tells us is that the rich are clearly not stupid, choosing to buy the same sorts of vehicles that the rest of us do, models with good reputations for quality and value. Either that or they're paying their servants in cars.
Half of Vehicles are Non-Luxury Brands; Only Two Vehicles Over $50K
Just because you're wealthy doesn't mean you drive the flashiest car on the block, according to a recent TrueCar.com study that reviewed the top vehicles purchased in the wealthiest zip codes. While admittedly, luxury cars may fit into the stereotype lifestyles of these rich and famous, TrueCar data shows there are plenty of wealthy consumers who opt to drive mainstream brands.
TrueCar.com, the authority on new car pricing, trends and forecasting information, examined the car buying preferences of residents in the 10 wealthiest zip codes in the United States, as determined by the Internal Revenue Service to determine the most 10 most popular vehicles sold in America's wealthiest neighborhoods.
Among the top 10 most popular vehicles in America's wealthiest neighborhoods, half are non-luxury vehicles. And in a demographic where a car budget doesn't seem to be much of a concern, all vehicles are priced less than $50,000 - with the exception of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and the BMW X5.
Some of the key findings in the data include:
• The Toyota Prius was the most popular vehicle in Ross and Century City, Calif.
• Of the top five vehicles purchased in Downtown Chicago, none were from luxury brands
• The Mercedes-Benz S-Class was the most expensive model purchased in top ten wealthiest Zip codes
• Manhattan represents the city with the wealthiest zip code and the most popular vehicle purchased was the Mercedes-Benz E-Class while the Honda CR-V rounds out the top five
• SUV's are popular in Greenwich, Conn. with four out of the top five
• The Toyota Sienna and Honda Odyssey are the only two minivans to make the top five purchased by residents in Medina, Wash.
"Luxury brands like BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Lexus are the top choice for the well-off, but with wealth often comes freedom of choice. The data demonstrates, that wealthy consumers of today make value a top priority as half the vehicles purchased are from mainstream brands including Honda, Toyota, and Volkswagen that offer the best in vehicle amenities and comfort that near those of some luxury models," said Kristen Andersson, Senior Analyst at TrueCar.com. "For affluent buyers who live in places where environmental concerns reign supreme, the Toyota Prius is the ultimate status symbol in eco-luxury."
Most Popular Cars Sold in America's Wealthiest Zip Codes
Rank Make/Model Segment MSRP* Market Average** % Discount
1 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Luxury Car $51,365 $48,068 6.4%
2 BMW 328 Luxury Car $35,795 $34,461 3.7%
3 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Luxury Car $36,095 $34,144 5.4%
4 Lexus RX Luxury SUV $39,950 $37,628 5.8%
5 Toyota Prius Small Car $30,565 $29,525 3.4%
6 Volkswagen Jetta Small Car $26,085 $24,978 4.2%
7 Honda CR-V Midsize SUV $29,575 $28,875 2.4%
8 Honda Accord Midsize Car $23,070 $21,210 8.1%
9 Toyota Camry Midsize Car $25,535 $23,871 6.5%
10 BMW X5 Luxury SUV $58,595 $54,995 6.1%
Wealthiest Zips data based on IRS Tax table. Filtered for zip codes with 1,000 returns or more. If the particular zip code didn't have a large enough sample size, it was expanded to include surrounding zip codes. Zip codes are in the file that are associated to the location. *MSRP is based on the most popular trim.**Market Average is estimated based on the national average of recent vehicle transactions, including destination and delivery charges after incentives that are subject to change, but does not include tax, title, licensing, documentation or processing fees, other state and governmental charges and/or fees, or any other charges or fees allowed by law. †Percent Discount is rounded to the nearest tenth.